Proverbs Chapter 1:33; 2:5-12,16, 20-22; 3:1–8 Antique Commentary Quotes

Pulpit Commentary


Hearkeneth unto me. Wisdom, in closing her address, draws a beautiful picture of the real security and peace of the righteous, as contrasted with the false security of the wicked. As on the one side rejection of her counsels, her warnings, and invitations, carries with it punishment and irretrievable ruin; so, on the other, the hearkening to her words, and loving obedience, are rewarded by her with the choicest blessings. Shall dwell safely; that is, with confidence, without danger (absque terrore, Vulgate). The phrase, שָכַןבֶּטַד (shachan betakh), is used in Deu_33:12-18 of the safety with which the covenant people should dwell in the land that God had given them; but it is capable of a further extension of meaning beyond mere temporal security, viz. to the spiritual peace of the righteous. The psalmist also employs it to describe the confidence with which he awaits the resurrection, when he says, “My flesh also shall rest in hope [or, ‘dwell confidently’]” (Psa_16:9). So here Wisdom promises that he who hearkens to her shall dwell calmly and undisturbed amidst the distractions of the world. The promise agrees with the description of Wisdom elsewhere that “her ways are ways of pleasantness, and all her paths are peace.” And shall be quiet; (שַׁאֲנַן, shaanan, perfect pilel). Wisdom regards her assurance as already accomplished, and hence the perfect in the original is used for the future. The hearers and doers of her will shall live in tranquillity; nay, they are already doing so. It is a thing not only in prospect, but in possession. From fear of evil; i.e. either without any fear of evil, fear being removed (timore sublato, Vulgate), or, as the Authorized Version expresses it, connecting the phrase more intimately with the verb—”quiet from fear of evil.” It is not only evil, רֲעַה (raah), in its substantial form, as calamity, they are to be free from, but even the fear of it. The tranquillity will be supreme.

Pulpit Commentary


Wisdom which is the foundation of security and safety, and hence is sound wisdom, is that which God treasures up for the righteous. The teacher passes to another phase of the Divine character. God is not only the Source of wisdom; he is also the Ensurer of safety, the Source of salvation to those who act uprightly. It will be noted that the use of the word is confined to the Proverbs and Job, with the exception of the two passages in Isaiah and Micah. Buckler. Besides storing up the treasures of sound wisdom, which the righteous may use and so obtain security in their uprightness, God is himself a Buckler, or Shield (מָגֵן, magen), to those who walk in innocence. This aspect of God’s directly protecting power is met with in other parts of Scripture. In Gen_15:1 he encourages Abram with the assurance, “I am thy Shield.” In Psa_33:20; Psa_84:11; Psa_89:18; Psa_144:2, Jehovah is called a Shield to his saints. He renders them security against the assaults of their enemies, and especially against the fiery darts of the wicked one. Again, in Pro_30:5, it is said, “God is a Shield (magen) up to them that walk uprightly.” It is incorrect to take מָגֵן (magen) either as an accusative after the verb or in apposition with “sound wisdom.” To them that walk uprightly; literally, to the walkers in innocence (לְחֹלֵכֵיתֹם, l’khol’key thom). תֹם (thom) is “integrity of mind,” “moral faultlessness,” “innocence.” “To walk uprightly” is to maintain a course of life regulated by right principles, and directed to right ends. He “walks uprightly who lives with the fear of God as his principle, the Word of God as his rule, and the glory of God as his end” (Wardlaw). The completeness of the moral and religious character is involved in the expression which is found also in Pro_10:9 and Psa_84:11. The Vulgate translates the latter clause of the verse, proteget gradientes simpliciter, “he will protect those who walk in simplicity;” cf. 2Co_1:12 in illustration of the phrase. He layeth up; i.e. he treasures up (LXX; θησαυρίζειν), or preserves and protects (custodire, Vulgate), as a person does “treasure or jewel, that it may not be stolen” (Zockler). The majority of commentators read the Keri (יִצפֹן, “he will treasure up,” future of צָפַן) in preference to the Khetib (צָפַן, perfect of same verb, with prefix וְ, “and he treasured up”), and this is the; reading adopted in the Authorized Version. The Keri implies that God does treasure up sound wisdom, while the Khetib, as Delitzsch observes, has the force of the aorist, and so represents the treasuring up as an accomplished fact. The same verb occurs in Pro_2:1, where it is translated in the Authorized Version by “hide,” and also in Pro_7:1 and Pro_10:14 by “lay up.” The laying up, or treasuring, points to the preciousness of that which is treasured, “sound wisdom.” Sound wisdom. A great variety of opinions exists as to the true meaning of the word in the original, תְוּשִׁיָה (tvushiyyah), of which “sound wisdom” is an interpretation. Zockler explains it as “wisdom, reflection;” Delitzsch, as “advancement and promotion;” Dathe, as “solid fortune;” Gesenius, as “aid.” The proper meaning of the word seems to he “substance,” from the root יָשָׁה, “to be, to exist, to be firm.” Professor Lee remarks on the word, “From the places in which it occurs, either wealth, thought, or some such sense it manifestly requires. It occurs in Job_6:13, in parallelism with ‘help;’ in Pro_2:7, with a ‘shield;’ in Job_1:6, with ‘wisdom;’ in Job_12:16, with ‘strength;’ in Pro_3:21, with ‘discretion;’ in Pro_8:14, with ‘counsel’ and ‘understanding;’ in Isa_28:29, with ‘counsel;’ and so in Job_26:3. In Job_30:22 and Mic_6:9, ‘entirely’ or the like seems to suit the context; see also Pro_18:1, and generally ‘excess,’ or ‘abundance,’ taken either in a good or bad sense, and varied by other considerations, seems to prevail in every case in which this word is used” (see Professor Lee, on Job_5:12). The parallelism of the passage before us seems to require that it should be understood in the sense of security; and transferring the idea to wisdom as the means of security. This idea is reproduced in the LXX. σωτήρια, the Vulgate salus, and the Targum incolumitas.

Pulpit Commentary


He keepeth the paths of judgment. This verse is explanatory of the latter hemistich of Pro_2:7, and points out more fully in what way God is a Protector of his saints. Some connect the Hebrew infinitive לִנְצֹד (lin’tsor), “to watch or keep,” with “them that walk uprightly,” and translate, “them that walk uprightly by keeping the paths of judgment;” but this is to transfer the idea of protection from God to such persons. The verb signifies specially “to defend, to preserve from danger,” as in Pro_22:12, “The eyes of the Lind preserve knowledge; i.e. defend or protect it from danger.” It is God who “keepeth the paths of judgment,” as he alone has the power to do so. He watches over all that walk therein, guides, superin. tends, and protects them. The paths of judgment; or rather, justice, אֱרְהוֹתמִשְׁפָט (at’khoth mishpat). The abstract is here used for the concrete, and the phrase means “the paths of the just,” i.e. the paths in which the just walk, or “those who walk justly” (Mercerus). This expression corresponds with “the way of his saints,” just as “keep” and “preserve” are synonymous verbs, both meaning “to guard, keep safe, or protect.” He preserveth the way of his saints. God does this

(1) by his preventing grace, as in Psa_66:9, “He suffereth not our feet to slip.” Cf. Hannah’s song, “He will keep the feet of his saints” (1Sa_2:9);

(2) by angelic agency, as in Psa_91:11, “He shall give his angels charge over thee to keep thee in all thy ways.” The saints are ever under the watchful care and mighty protection of Jehovah. His saints (חֲסִידָו, khasidav); i.e. the pious towards God, the godly, those in whose hearts the principles of sanctity have been implanted, and who cherish earnest inward love to God, and “walk righteously” and “speak uprightly” (Isa_33:15). It is remarkable that the word saints only occurs once (in this passage) in the Proverbs. During the period of the Maccabaean Wars, a party or sect, which aimed at ceremonial purity, claimed for themselves the title of Chasidim or Asidaeans (Ἀσιδαῖοι), as expressive of their piety or devotion. They are those whom Moses called “men of holiness,” Exo_22:31 (ואֲנְשֵׁי־קֹדֶשׁ, v’an’shev-kodesh); cf. Psa_89:5; Psa_149:1; Psa_89:8; Deu_33:3; Dan_7:18, Dan_7:22, Dan_7:22, Dan_7:25. Under the Christian dispensation, the saints are those who are sanctified in Christ Jesus (1Co_1:2; 1Jn_5:1), and who are holy in all manner of conversation (1Pe_1:25; 1 Macc 2:42; 7:13; 2 Macc 14:6); see Bishop Lightfoot, ‘Colossians and Philemon,’ diss. 2, p. 355.

Pulpit Commentary


That (Hebrew, לְמַעַן l’maan); in order that (Vulgate, ut), carries us back properly to Pro_2:11. The protecting power of wisdom is developed in a positive direction. Negatively, it delivers from the evil man and from the strange woman, but it does more—”it shall keep thee in order that thou mayest walk in a good way,” etc. The Hebrew לְמַעַן (l’maan) is coordinate with “to deliver thee,” but it serves to bring the discourse to a conclusion. Umbreit renders it “therefore,” thus making what follows an inference from the preceding discourse. So the Syriac, ambula igitur, “therefore walk.” In the way of good men (בְּדֶרֶךְטוֹבִים, b’derek tovim); i.e. in the way of the good, in an ethical sense, i.e. the upright, as in Isa_5:20. The Vulgate renders, in via bona, “in the good way.” “The way of good men” is the way of God’s commandments, the way of obedience. Keep. The Hebrew verb שָׁמַר (shamar) is here used in the sense of “to observe,” “to attend to,” but in a different sense from Psa_17:4, “I have observed the ways of the violent man,” i.e. that I might avoid them. To keep the paths of the righteous is to carefully attend to the life of obedience which they follow. The LXX. closely connects this verse with the preceding, and renders, “For if they had walked in good ways, they would have found the paths of righteousness light.”

Pulpit Commentary


For the upright shall dwell in the land. Much the same language is met with in Psa_37:29, “The righteous shall inherit the land, and dwell therein foreverse” It is the secure and peaceful dwelling in the land which is intended (cf. Pro_10:30). To dwell in the land was always put forward as the reward of obedience to God’s commandments (see Exo_20:12; Le Exo_25:18; Exo_26:5), and the phrase conveyed to the Hebrew mind the idea of one of the greatest, if not the greatest, of all temporal blessings. The love of country was a predominant characteristic of the race. Elster, quoted by Zockler, remarks, “The Israelite was beyond the power of natural feeling, which makes home dear to every one, more closely bound to the ancestral soil by the whole form of the theocracy; torn kern it, he was in the inmost roots of life strained and broken. Especially from psalms belonging to the period of the exile this patriotic feeling is breathed out in the fullest glow and intensity.” The land (אָרֶץ, arets) was the promised land, the land of Canaan. The word is not used here in the wider sense in which it occurs in Mat_5:5, “Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth.” And the perfect shall remain in it; i.e. they shall not, as Rabbi Levi remarks, be driven thence nor caused to migrate. The perfect (תְמִימִים, th’mimim), the holy (LXX; ὅσιοι), the spotless (immaeulati, Targum), those without a staid (qui sine labe, Syriae), the guileless (simplices, Vulgate). Shall remain; יִוָּתְרוּ (yivrath’ru), niph. future of יָתר (yathar), properly “to be redundant,” and in the niph. form, “to be left,” or “to remain.” LXX; ὑπολειφθη ́σαντι “shall remain;” permanebunt, Vulgate.

Pulpit Commentary


But the wicked shall be cut off from the earth. The punishment of the wicked is contrasted with the blessings that are promised to the upright. Shall be cut off; יִפָרֵתוּ (yikkarethu), niph. future of כָרַת (karath), “to cut off, or destroy.” LXX; ὀλου ͂νται; Vulgate, perdentur.;The expression is used to convey the idea of extermination, as in Psa_37:9 (cf. Job_18:17; Psa_37:28; Psa_104:35). The verb is found also in Gen_17:14; Exo_12:15. The earth; properly, the land. The same word (אַרֶץ, arets) is used as in Exo_12:21. The transgressors (בּוֹגְדִים, bog’dim); here employed synonymously with “the wicked” (יְשָׁעִים, y’shaim), “the impious.” The primary meaning of the verb from which it is derived (בָגַד, bagad) is “to cover,” “to deal treacherously,” and hence the word signifies those who act treacherously or perfidiously, the faithless. They are those who perfidiously depart from God, and break away from the covenant with Jehovah. LXX; παράνομοι (cf. Pro_11:3, Pro_11:6; Pro_13:2, Pro_13:25; Pro_22:12; Psa_25:3; Psa_59:5; Isa_33:1). Shall be rooted out (יסֶּחוּ, yiss’khu). This word is taken by Davidson as the future kal of נסַה (nasah), “to pluck up,” and hence is equivalent to “they shall pluck up,” or, passively, “they stroll be plucked up.” Delitzsch remarks that it is as at Pro_15:25 and Psa_52:7, active, “they shall pluck up,” and this with the subject remaining indefinite is equivalent to the passive form, “they shall be plucked up.” This indefinite “they” can be used of God, as also in Job_7:3 (Fleischer). The expression has been understood as referring to being driven into exile (Gesenius), and this view would be amply justified by the fate which overtook the apostate nation when both the kingdoms of Israel and Judah suffered this fate (cf. LXX. ἐξωθη ́σονται, “they shall be driven out”). It also derives colour from the language of the preceding verse, but the imagery appears to be derived from the cutting down and rooting up of trees. The destruction of the wicked and transgressors will be complete. They shall be exterminated (cf. Targum, eradicabuntur; Syriac evellentur; and Arabic, exterminabuntur).

Pulpit Commentary


Then shalt thou understand the fear of the Lord. Then (אָן), introducing the first apodosis, and answering to the conditional “if” of Pro_2:1, Pro_2:3, Pro_2:4. The earnest endeavour after Wisdom meets with its reward, and those that seek shall find (cf. Mat_7:7): and thus an inducement is held forth to listen to the admonition of the teacher. Understand implies the power of discernment, but Zockler gives it the further moaning of taking to one’s self as a spiritual possession, just as “find” meaning primarily “to arrive at” conveys the idea of getting possession of (Mercerus). The fear of the Lord (יְרְאַתיְחָוֹה, yir’ath yehovah); “the fear of Jehovah,” as in Pro_1:7. As it is the beginning, so it is the highest form of knowledge and the greatest good. Elsewhere it is represented as a fountain of life (Pro_15:27). All true wisdom is summed up in “the fear of the Lord.” It here means the reverence due to him, and so comprises the whole range of the religious affections and feelings, which respond to various attributes of the Divine character as they are revealed, and which find their expression in holy worship. The knowledge of God (דַעַתאֱלֹהִים, daath Elohim); literally, the knowledge of Elohim. Not merely cognition, but knowledge in its wider sense. The two ideas of “the fear of the Lord” and “the knowledge of God” act reciprocally on each other. Just as without reverence of God there can be no knowledge of him in its true sense, so the knowledge of God will increase and deepen the feeling of reverence. But it is noticeable that the teacher here, as in Pro_9:10, where, however, it is “the knowledge of the holy” (דַעַתקְדשִׁים, daath k’doshim), gives the chief place to reverence, and thus indicates that it is the basis of knowledge, which is its fruit and result. The relation here suggested is analogous to that which subsists between faith and knowledge, and recalls the celebrated dictum of Anselm: “Neque enim quaero intelligere ut credam; sed credo, ut intelligam.” Elohim, here interchanged with Jehovah, is not of frequent occurrence in the Proverbs, as it is only found therein five times, while the predominating word which is used to designate the Deity is Jehovah. But it is difficult to draw any distinction between them here. Jehovah may refer more especially to the Personality of the Divine nature, while Elohim may refer to Christ’s glory (Plumptre). Bishop Wordsworth thinks that a distinction is made between the knowledge of Elohim and the knowledge of man which is of little worth.

Pulpit Commentary


For the Lord giveth wisdom. The Lord Jehovah is the only and true Source of wisdom. The truth stated here is also met with in Dan_2:21, “He giveth wisdom unto the wise, and knowledge to them that know understanding.” He “giveth,” or more properly, “will give” (יִתֵּן, yitten, future of נָתַן, nathan), wisdom; but the connection requires us to understand that the assurance applies only to those who seek after it earnestly and truly (cf. Jas_1:5-7). The two coefficients to our obtaining wisdom are our efforts and God’s assistance. Solomon may be adduced as s striking exemplification of this; he asked for “an understanding heart,” and God graciously granted his request (see 1Ki_3:9, 1Ki_3:12). Out of his mouth (מִפִיו, mippiv); ex ore ejus; God is here spoken of anthropologically. He is the true Teacher. The meaning is that God communicates wisdom through the medium of his Word (Delitzsch. Pi.). The law proceeds from his mouth (Job_22:22). In the Book of Wisdom (Wis. 7:25), “Wisdom is the breath of the power of God.” His word is conveyed to us through men divinely inspired, and hence St. Peter (2Pe_1:21) says that “holy men of old spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.”

Pulpit Commentary


Then (אָז, az), repeated from Pro_2:5, introduces the second apodosis. As the former referred to God, so this appears to refer more especially to man, and thus we have stated the whole benefit, in its twofold aspect, which Wisdom confers on those who diligently seek her. It is not to be affirmed, however, that righteousness and judgment and equity refer exclusively to man; they must represent some aspects of our relationship to God, both from the meaning of the words themselves, and because the law which regulates our dealings and intercourse with man has its seat in the higher law of our relation to God. Righteousness, and judgment, and equity. These three words occur in the same collocation in Pro_1:3, which see. Yea, every good path. “Yea” does not occur in the original. The expression is a summarizing of the three previous conceptions, as if the teacher implied that all good paths are embraced by and included in “righteousness, and judgment, and equity;” but the term is also comprehensive in the widest degree. The literal translation is “every path of good” (כְּל־מַעְגֻּל־טוֹב, cal-ma’gal-tov), i.e. every course of action of which goodness is the characteristic, or, as the Authorized Version, “every good path,” the sense in which it was understood by St. Jerome, omnem orbitam bonam. The word here used for “path” is מַעְגַּל (ma’gal), “the way in which the chariot rolls” (Delitzsch), and metaphorically a course of action, as in Pro_2:15; Pro_4:26.

Pulpit Commentary


When wisdom entereth into thine heart. There is practically little difference as to the sense, whether we render the Hebrew כִּיby the conditional “if” or by the temporal “when” as in the Authorized Version. The conditional force is adopted by the LXX. ἐάν and the Vulgate si. In the previous section of this address, the teacher has shown that the search after Wisdom will result in possession.; now he points out, when Wisdom is secured, certain advantageous consequences follow. The transition is easy and natural. The form of construction is very similar to that adopted previously. There is first the hypothesis, if we give this force to כִּי, though much shorter; and secondly the climax, also shorter and branching off into the statement of two special cases. Entereth; or, shall enter (חָבוֹא, thavo) in the sense of permanent residence in the heart. Wisdom is not only to come in, but to rest there (cf. Pro_14:33). The expression is illustrated by Joh_14:23. The imagery of the verse is taken from the reception and entertainment of a guest. As we receive a welcome guest, and find pleasure in his company, so is Wisdom to be dear to the heart and soul. Into thine heart (בְּלִבֶּךָ, b’libecha). The heart (לֵב) “concentrates in it. self the personal life of man in all its relations, the conscious and the unconscious, the voluntary and the involuntary, the physical and the spiritual impulses, the emotions and states” (Cremer, ‘Bib. Theol. Lex.,’ sub voce καρδία). It is that in which the נֶפֶשׁ (nephesh),”soul,” manifests itself. It is the centre of the life of will and desire, of the emotions, and of the moral life. Rudloff remarks that everywhere in the Scriptures the heart appears to belong more to the life of desire and feeling than to the intellectual activity of the soul. But at the same time, it is to be noted that intelligent conception is attributed to the heart (לֵב); Pro_14:10; Pro_8:5; Pro_16:9. The expression seems to be put here for the moral side of man’s nature; and in the Hellenistic sense, καρδία, the proper equivalent of לֵב “heart,” involves all that stands for νοῦς λόγος συνείδησις, and θυμός; i.e. it includes, besides other things, the intellectual faculty. The word “soul” (נֶפֶשׁ, nephesh) is here found in combination with “heart.” The other passages where they are mentioned together are Deu_6:5; Psa_13:2; Jer_4:19; Pro_24:12. The soul is primarily the vital principle, but according to the usus loquendi of Holy Scripture, it frequently denotes the entire inward nature of man; it is that part which is the object of the work of redemption. The homo of the soul is the heart, as appears from Pro_14:10, “The heart knoweth his own bitterness [or, ‘the bitterness of his soul,’ Hebrew].” While the “heart” (לֵב) is rendered by καρδία and ψυχή, the only Greek equivalent to “soul” (וֶפֶשׁ) is ψυχή. The two expressions, “heart,” and “soul,” in the passage before us may be taken as designating both the moral and spiritual sides of man’s nature. Wisdom is to be acceptable and pleasant to man in these respects. It may be remarked that an intellectual colouring is given to the word “heart” by the LXX; who render it by διανοία, as also in Deu_6:5 and other passages, evidently from the idea that prominence is given to the reflective faculty. Classically, διανοία is equivalent to “thought,” “faculty of thought,” “intellect.” Knowledge (Hebrew, דָעָת); literally, to know, as in Pro_8:10 and Pro_14:6; here used synonymously with “wisdom.” Knowledge, not merely as cognition, but perception; i.e. not merely knowing a thing with respect to its existence and being, but as to its excellence and truth. Equivalent to the LXX. αἰσσησις, “perception,” and the Vulgate scientia. Is pleasant (Hebrew, יִנְעָם, yin’am); literally, shall be pleasant; i.e. sweet, lovely, beautiful. The same word is used impersonally in Jacob’s blessing of Issachar (Gen_49:15, “And he saw the land that it was pleasant”), and also in Pro_24:25, “To those that punish [i.e. the judges] there shall be delight.” And this usage has led Dunn to take knowledge as an accusative of reference, and to translate, “There is pleasure to thy soul in respect of knowledge;” but the Authorized Version may be accepted as correct. “Knowledge” is masculine, as in Pro_8:10 and Pro_14:6, and agrees with the masculine verb “is pleasant.” Knowledge will be pleasant from the enjoyment and rest which it yields. The Arabic presents the idea of this enjoyment under a different aspect: “And prudence shall be in thy soul the most beautiful glory.”

Pulpit Commentary


Discretion shall preserve thee. Discretion (מְזַמָּת, m’zimoth), as in Pro_1:4, is the outward manifestation of wisdom; it tests what is uncertain, and avoids danger (Hitzig). The word carries with it the idea of reflection or consideration (see Pro_3:21; Pro_5:2; Pro_8:12) The LXX. reads, βουλὴ καλή, “good counsel;” and the Vulgate, concilium. Shall preserve thee. The idea of protection and guarding, which is predicated of Jehovah in Pro_1:8, is here transferred to discretion and understanding, which to some extent are put forward as personifications. Understanding (תְבוּנָה, t’vunah), as in Pro_2:11; the power of distinguishing and separating, and, in the case of conflicting interests, to decide on the best. Shall keep; i.e. keep safe, or in the sense of watching over or guarding. The two verbs “to preserve” (שָׁמַר, shamar) and “to keep” (נָצַר, natsar), LXX. τήρειν, occur together again in Pro_4:6.

Pulpit Commentary


To deliver thee from the way of the evil man. The first special advantage resulting from the protecting guardianship of discretion and understanding. From the way of the evil man; properly, from an evil way; Hebrew, מִדֶּרֶךְרָע (midarek ra), not necessarily, though by implication, connected with man, as in the Authorized Version. רָע (ra), “evil,” “wicked,” in an ethical sense, is an adjective, as in Jer_3:16 (לֵברָע, lev ra), “an evil heart;” cf. the LXX; ἀπὸ ὁδοῦ κακῆ ς; the Vulgate, Targum, and Arabic, a vid mala, and the Syriac, a viis pravis. “Way,” is here used in the sense of “conduct,” and the evil way is a line of conduct or action which is essentially wicked or evil. The teacher has already Warned youth against the temptations and dangers of the way of evil men in Pro_1:10-15; he now shows that discretion, arising from wisdom being resident in the heart, will be a sufficient safeguard against its allurements. From the man that speaketh froward things. Perverse utterances are here brought in contradistinction to the evil way or froward conduct. Man (אִשׁ, ish) is here used generically, as the representative of the whole class of base and wicked men, since all the following verbs are in the plural, Froward things. The word תַּהְפֻכוֹּת (tah)pucoth), here translated “froward things,” is derived from the root רףּ (haphak), “to turn,” “to pervert,” and should be translated “perverseness.” Perverseness is the wilful misrepresentation of that which is good and true. The utterances are of a distorted and tortuous character. The word, only found in the plural, is abstract in form, and is of frequent, though not of exclusive, occurrence in the Proverbs. It is attributed to the Israelites in Deu_32:20. It is met with again in such expressions as “the mouth of perverseness,” Authorized Version “froward mouth” (Pro_8:13); “the tongue of perverseness,” “froward tongue,” Authorized Version (Pro_10:31); “the man of perverseness,” “froward man,” Authorized Version (Pro_16:28). What is here said of wicked men is attributed to drunkards in Pro_23:33, “Thine heart shall utter perverse things.” The expression finds its explanation in Pro_6:13, Pro_6:14. The spirit which indulges in this perverseness is stubborn, scornful, self-willed, and rebellious, and it is from such a spirit that discretion is a preservative. In Job_5:13 it is said that “the counsel of the froward is carried headlong” (see also 2Sa_22:27; Psa_18:26; Psa_101:4). The LXX. rendering of this word is μηδὲν πιστόν, “nothing trustworthy,” which is amplified in the Arabic, quod nullam in se continet veritatem, “that which contains in itself no truth.”

Cambridge Bible Perowne

Proverbs 2:16

16. strange woman … stranger] i.e. not belonging to thee; a stranger, in right, to any such relationship. Neither of the words, as here used, has any reference to nationality, as though the danger in question arose chiefly from foreign women. They are married women of the true religion (Pro_2:17), and wives of fellow-citizens (Pro_7:19-20) who are here in view. It is a different Heb. word that is used commonly (e.g. Gen_15:13; Exo_20:10) for a “stranger” in the sense of a foreigner, one sojourning in a land not his own. The “strange woman” here is so called in the sense which the same Heb. word bears in such passages as Exo_29:33; Exo_30:33 (one who is outside the family of Aaron); Deu_25:5 (one who is outside the family circle). This word for stranger, though it often means a foreigner (Deu_17:15; comp. Exo_2:22; Exo_21:8), is here a proper synonym with the word in the parallel clause, one who is not a man’s own wife; just as in Ecc_6:2 it means one who is not a man’s own child.

flattereth] Heb. maketh smooth her words, R.V. marg. An example is given in Pro_7:13-21.

Pulpit Commentary


To deliver thee from the strange woman. This is the second form of temptation against which wisdom (discretion) is a preservative, and the great and especial dangers arising from it to youth, owing to its seductive allurements, afford the reason why the teacher is so strong in his warnings on this subject. Two terms are employed to designate the source of this evil—”the strange woman” (אִשָהזָרָה, ishshah zara), and “the stranger” (נָכְרִיָה, nok’riyah)—and both undoubtedly, in the passage before us, mean a meretricious person, one who indulges in illicit intercourse. The former term is invariably employed in this sense in the Proverbs (Pro_5:2, Pro_5:20; Pro_7:5; Pro_22:14; Pro_23:33) of the adulteress (זָרִים, zarim), and Jer_2:25. The participle זָר (zar), from the verb זוּר (zur), of which זָרָה (zarah) is the feminine form, is, however, used in a wider sense, as signifying

(1) one of another nation, or one of another family;

(2) or some one different from one’s self;

(3) or strange.


(1) in Isa_1:7 we have “Strangers devour it (your land) in your presence;” but in Exo_30:33 “the stranger” is one not the high priest.

(2) The “stranger” is another (Pro_11:15; Pro_14:10; Pro_20:16; Pro_27:2, Pro_27:13).

(3) The “strange fire” (אֵשׁזָרָה, esh zarah) is the unlawful fire as opposed to the holy fire (Le Exo_10:1); the “strange god” (אֵלזָר, el zar) is the foreign god (Psa_81:9). But the idea of foreign origin implied in the word is more strongly brought out in the next term, נָכְרִיָה (nok’riyah), on which Delitzsch remarks that it scarcely ever divests itself of a strange, foreign origin. This word is used to designate those “strange women” whom Solomon loved in his old age, and who turned his heart aside to worship false gods (1Ki_11:1-8), “outlandish women,” as they are termed in Neh_13:26; it designates “the strange wives” of Ezr_10:1-44, and Neh_13:27; and is applied to Ruth the Moabitess (Rth_2:10). Again, it has to be further observed that the laws of the Mosaic code against prostitution were of a most stringent nature (Le 19:29; 21:9; Deu_23:17), and no doubt served to maintain a higher standard of morality among Israelitish women than that observed among the Midianites, Syrians, and other nations. Strong prohibitions were directed against the intermarriage of Israelites with the women of the surrounding nations; but the example set by Solomon would serve to weaken the force of these prohibitions, and would lead to a large influx of women of a different nationality. The conclusion we arrive at is that the class mentioned in the text, though not Israelitish by birth, were yet so by adoption, as the context clearly indicates (verse 17) the fact of marriage and the acceptance of certain religious observances. Such women, after a temporary restraint, would eventually set all moral and religious obligations at defiance. and would become the source of temptation to others. The allegorical interpretation given to this passage by the LXX. is to be rejected on the ground that the previous section (verses 12-15) speaks of perverse men. Which flattereth with her words; literally, who has made smooth her words, the hiph. perfect being used of חָלַק (khalak), “to make smooth,” or “flattering.” The preterite shows what her habitual practice is, and is used of an action still continuing, and so may be fitly rendered by the present, as in the Authorized Version: “She has acquired the art of enticing by flattering words, and it is her study to employ them;” cf. the Vulgate, quae mollit sermones suos, “who softens her words;” and the Syriac, quae subvertit verba sua, “who subverts her words,” i.e. “uses deceit.” The expression occurs again in Pro_5:3; Pro_6:24; Pro_7:5.

Pulpit Commentary


In all thy ways. This expression covers the whole area of life’s action—all its acts and undertakings, its spiritual and secular sides, no less than its public and private, It guards against our acknowledging God in great crises and solemn acts of worship only (Plumptre). Acknowledge (daehu); Vulgate, cogita; LXX; γνέριζε. The Hebrew verb yada signifies “to know, recognize.” To acknowledge God is, therefore, to recognize, in all our dealings and undertakings, God’s overruling providence, which “shapes our ends, rough hew them as we will.” It is not a mere theoretical acknowledgment, but one that engages the whole energies of the soul (Delitzsch), and sees in God power, wisdom, providence, goodness, and justice. This meaning is conveyed by the Vulgate cogitare, which is “to consider” in all parts, “to reflect upon.” David’s advice to his son Solomon is, “Know thou (ola) the God of thy father.” We may well acknowledge Jehovah; for he “knoweth the way of the righteous” (Psa_1:6). Acknowledging God also implies that we first ascertain whether what we are about to take in hand is in accordance with his precepts, and then look for his direction and illumination (Wardlaw). And he shall direct thy paths (v’hu y’yashsher or’khotheyka); i.e. he himself shall make them straight, or level, removing all obstacles out of the way; or they shall, under God’s direction, prosper and come to a successful issue; they shall be virtuous, inasmuch as deviation into vice will be guarded against, and happy, because they are prosperous. The pronoun v’hu is emphatic, “he himself;” Vulgate, et ipse. Yashar, piel. is “to make a way straight,” as in Pro_9:15; Pro_15:21; Pro_11:5. Cf. the LXX. ὀρθοτομει ͂ν, “to cut straight” (see on Pro_11:5). God here binds himself by a covenant (Lapide). This power is properly attributed to God, for “it is not in man to direct his steps” (Jer_10:23).

Pulpit Commentary


My son (b’ni) serves to externally connect this discourse with the preceding. Forget not my law. This admonition bears a strong resemblance to that in Pro_1:8, though the terms employed are somewhat different, torah and mits’oth here occupying the place respectively of musar and torah in that passage. My law (torathi), is literally, my teaching, or doctrine, from the root yarah, “to teach.” The torah is the whole body of salutary doctrine, and designates “Law” from the standpoint of teaching. Forgetting here is not So much oblivion arising from defective memory, as a wilful disregard and neglect of the admonitions of the teacher. Thine heart (libekha); Vulgate, cor; LXX; καρδία and so the sum total of the affections. Keep; yitstsor, from notsar, “to keep, or observe that which is commanded.” The word is of frequent occurrence in the Proverbs, and appears about twenty-five times. My commandments (mits’othay); Vulgate, praecepta mea; LXX; τὰ ῥήματα μου; i.e. my precepts. The Hebrew verb from which it is derived means “to command, or prescribe.” The law and commandments here alluded to are those which immediately follow, from verse 3 onwards. The three main ideas combined in this verse are remembrance, affection, and obedience. Remembering the law or teaching will depend, to a large extent, on the interest felt in that law; and the admonition to “forget not” is an admonition to give “earnest heed,” so that the law or teaching may be firmly fixed in the mind. In using the words, “let thy heart keep,” the teacher goes to the root of the matter. There may be an historical remembrance of, or an intellectual assent to, the commandments, but these are insufficient, for the keeping of the commandments must be based on the recognition of the fact that the affections of the heart are to be employed in the service of God, the keeping of the commandments is to be a labour of love. Again, the expression, “keep my commandments,” implies, of course, external conformity to their requirements: we are “to observe to do them” (Deu_8:1); but it implies, further, spiritual obedience, i.e. an obedience with which love is combined (Deu_30:20), and which arises from the inward principles of the heart being in harmony with the spirit of the commandments (see Wardlaw).

Cambridge Bible Perowne

Proverbs 3:2

2. long life] Rather, with A.V. marg. and R.V. text, years of life. There is perhaps a climax; not only length of days, prolonged existence, but years of life truly so-called, life worth living. The distinction is at least suggested by the use of βίος in the first clause and ζωή in the second by the LXX. μῆκος βίου, ἔτη ζωῆς: not alone vita quam vivimus, but vita quâ vivimus.

peace] This word, meaning literally wholeness, completeness, contains implicitly and is gradually developed into its full Biblical sense: “the greatest blessing, even peace, a blessing which no man is able to afford,” Philo quoted by Bp Westcott on St Joh_14:17. Comp. Php_4:7.

Pulpit Commentary


Length of days (orek yamim); Vulgate, longitudo dierum. The expression is literally “extension of days,” and signifies the prolongation of life, its duration to the appointed limit—a meaning which is brought out in the LXX. μῆκος βίου, “length of days,” the Greek word βίος being used, not of existence, but of the time and course of life. It occurs again in Pro_3:16, and also in Job_12:12 and Psa_21:4. “Length of days” is represented as a blessing in the Old Testament, depending, however, as in the present instance, on the fulfilment of certain conditions. Thus in the fifth commandment it is appended to the honouring of parents (Exo_20:12), and it was promised to Solomon, at Gibeon, on the condition that he walked in the way, statutes, and commandments of God (1Ki_3:14). The promise of prolongation of life is not to be pressed historically as applying to every individual case, but is to be taken as indicating the tendency of keeping the Divine precepts, which, as a rule, ensure preservation of health, and hence “length of days.” Long life (vush’noth khayyim); literally, years of life; Targum Jonathan, Vulgate, Syriac, and Arabic, anni vitae; LXX; ἔτη ζωῆς. The Authorized Version scarcely serves to bring out the sense of the original, as there is practically no difference in meaning between “length of days” and “long life? The idea conveyed in the expression, “years of life,” is that of material prosperity. The thought of an extended life is carried on from the preceding expression, but it is amplified and described. The years of life will be many, but they will be years of life in its truest sense, as one of true happiness and enjoyment, free from distracting cares, sickness, and other drawbacks. The Hebrew plural, khayyim, “lives,” is equivalent to the Greek expression, βίος βιωτός, “a life worth while living” (cf. Plat; ‘Apol.,’ 38, A). To the Israelitish mind, the happiness of life consisted in “dwelling in the land” (Deu_4:40; Deu_5:30, etc.), and “abiding in the house of the Lord” (Psa_15:1; Psa_23:6; Psa_27:3) (Zockler). The conjecture that the plural, khayyim, signifies the present and the future life, is unfounded. The scope of the promise before us is confined to the present stage of existence, and it is negatived also by the similar use of the plural in Pro_16:5, “In the light of the king’s countenance is life (khayyim),” where khayyim cannot possibly refer to the future life. Khayyim stands for life in its fulness. “Godliness” has indeed, as St. Paul wrote to Timothy, “promise of the life that now is, aud of that which is to come” (1Ti_4:8). Peace (shalom). The verb shalam, from which the substantive shalom is derived, signifies “to be whole, sound, safe,” and hence “peace” means internal and external contentment, and tran-quillity of mind arising from the sense of safety. In Pro_16:17 the ways of Wisdom are designated peace. While, on the one hand, peace is represented by the psalmist as the possession of those who love God’s Law (Psa_119:165), on the other, it is denied the wicked (Isa_48:22; Isa_57:21). Shall they add to thee; i.e. shall the precepts and commands bring (Zockler) or heap upon (Muffet) thee.

Pulpit Commentary


Be not wise in thine own eyes. This admonition carries on the thought from the preceding verses (5, 6), approaching it from a different direction. It is a protest against self-sufficiency, self-conceit, and self-reliance. It says, in effect, “Trust in the Lord, do not trust in yourself.” Wisdom, as Michaelis remarks, is to trust in God; to trust in yourself and in your own wisdom is unwisdom. God denounces this spirit: “Woe unto them that are wise in their own eyes, and prudent in their own sight!” (Isa_5:21), because such a spirit leads to the prohibited self-dependence, and is inconsistent with “the tear of the Lord.” The precept of the text is reiterated by St. Paul, especially in Rom_12:16, “Be not wise in your own conceits” (cf. 1Co_8:8; Gal_6:3). It commends humility. The diligent search for Wisdom is commanded. The great hindrance to all true wisdom is the thought that we have already attained it (Plumptre). In thine own eyes; i.e. in thine own estimation; arbitrio tuo. Fear the Lord, and depart from evil. The connection of this with the first part of the verse becomes clear upon reflection. “The fear of the Lord” is true wisdom (Job_28:28; Pro_1:7). Fear the Lord, therefore, because it is the best corrective of one’s own wisdom, which engenders arrogance, pride, presumption of mind, which, moreover, is deceptive and apt to lead to sin. The fear of the Lord has this other advantage—that it leads to the departure from evil (Pro_16:6) It is the mark of the wise man that he fears the Lord, and departs from evil (Pro_14:16). These precepts form the two elements of practical piety (Delitzsch), an eminent example of which as Job (Job_1:1).

Adam Clarke

Proverbs 3:8

It shall be health to thy navel – We need not puzzle ourselves to find out what we may suppose to be a more delicate meaning for the original word שר shor than navel; for I am satisfied a more proper cannot be found. It is well known that it is by the umbilical cord that the fetus receives its nourishment all the time it is in the womb of the mother. It receives nothing by the mouth, nor by any other means: by this alone all nourishment is received, and the circulation of the blood kept up. When, therefore, the wise man says, that “trusting in the Lord with the whole heart, and acknowledging him in all a man’s ways, etc., shall be health to the navel, and marrow to the bones;” he in effect says, that this is as essential to the life of God in the soul of man, and to the continual growth in grace, as the umbilical cord is to the life and growth of the fetus in the womb. Without the latter, no human being could ever exist or be born; without the former, no true religion can ever be found. Trust or faith in God is as necessary to derive grace from him to nourish the soul, and cause it to grow up unto eternal life, as the navel string or umbilical cord is to the human being in the first stage of its existence. I need not push this illustration farther: the good sense of the reader will supply what he knows. I might add much on the subject.

And marrow to thy bones – This metaphor is not less proper than the preceding. All the larger bones of the body have either a large cavity, or they are spongious, and full of little cells: in both the one and the other the oleaginous substance, called marrow, is contained in proper vesicles, like the fat. In the larger bones, the fine oil, by the gentle heat of the body, is exhaled through the pores of its small vesicles, and enters some narrow passages which lead to certain fine canals excavated in the substance of the bone, that the marrow may supply the fibres of the bones, and render them less liable to break. Blood-vessels also penetrate the bones to supply this marrow and this blood; and consequently the marrow is supplied in the infant by means of the umbilical cord. From the marrow diffused, as mentioned above, through the bones, they derive their solidity and strength. A simple experiment will cast considerable light on the use of the marrow to the bones: – Calcine a bone, so as to destroy all the marrow from the cells, you will find it exceedingly brittle. Immerse the same bone in oil so that the cells may be all replenished, which will be done in a few minutes; and the bone reacquires a considerable measure of its solidity and strength; and would acquire the whole, if the marrow could be extracted without otherwise injuring the texture of the bone. After the calcination, the bone may be reduced to powder by the hand; after the impregnation with the oil, it becomes hard, compact, and strong. What the marrow is to the support and strength of the bones, and the bones to the support and strength of the body; that, faith in God, is to the support, strength, energy, and salvation of the soul. Behold, then, the force and elegance of the wise man’s metaphor. Some have rendered the last clause, a lotion for the bones. What is this? How are the bones washed? What a pitiful destruction of a most beautiful metaphor!

Pulpit Commentary


It shall be health to thy navel, and marrow to thy bones. A metaphorical expression, denoting the complete spiritual health which shall follow from fearing the Lord and departing from evil. Health, (riph’uth); properly, healing; LXX; ιἅσις; Vulgate, sanitas; so Syriac and Arabic. The Targum Jonathan has medicina, “medicine,” as the margin. The root rapha is properly “to sew together,” and the secondary meaning, “to heal,” is taken from the healing of a wound by sewing it up. Delitzsch, however, thinks riph’uth is not to be taken as a restoration from sickness, but as a raising up from enfeebled health, or a confirming of the strength which already exists. There shall be a continuance of health. Gesenius translates “refreshment.” To thy navel (l’shor’rekha); Vulgate, umbilico tuo; so Targum Jonathan. Shor is “the navel,” here used synecdochically for the whole body, just as “head” is put for the whole man (Jdg_5:30), “mouth” for the whole person speaking (Pro_8:13), and “slow bellies” for depraved gluttons (Tit_1:12) (Gejerus, Umbreit). The idea is expressed in the LXX; Syriac, and Arabic by “to thy body” (τῷ σώματι σου; corpori tuo). The navel is here regarded as the centre of vital strength. For the word, see So Pro_7:2; Eze_16:4. This is the only place in the Proverbs where this word is found. Gesenius, however, takes shor, or l’shor’rekha, as standing col. lectively for the nerves, in which, he says, is the seat of strength, and translates accordingly, “Health (i.e. refreshment) shall it be to thy nerves.” Marrow (shik’kuy); literally, watering or moistening, as in the margin; Vulgate, irrigatio. Moistening is imparted to the bones by the marrow, and thus they are strengthened: “His bones are moistened with marrow” (Job_21:24). Where there is an absence of marrow the drying up of the bones ensues, and hence their strength is impaired, and a general debility of the system sets in—they “wax old” (Psa_32:3). The effect of a broken spirit is thus described: “A broken spirit drieth up the bones” (Pro_17:22). The physiological fact here brought forward is borne witness to by Cicero, ‘In Tusc.:’ “In visceribus atque medullis omne bonum condidisse naturam” (cf. Plato). The meaning of the passage is that, as health to the navel and marrow to the bones stand as representatives of physical strength, so the fear of the Lord, etc; is the spiritual strength of God’s children.

Pulpit Commentary


Mercy and truth (khesed vermeth); properly, love and truth; Vulgate, misericordia et veritas; LXX; ἐλεημοσυ ́ναι καὶ πίστεις. With this verse begin the commandments which are alluded to in Pro_3:1. The Hebrew khesed has to be understood in its widest sense, though the Vulgate and the LXX. confine it to one aspect of its meaning, viz. that which refers to the relation of man to man, to the pity evoked by the sight of another’s misfortunes, and to ahnsgiving. The radical meaning of the word is “ardent desire,” from the root khasad, “to eagerly or ardently desire.” Delitzsch describes it as “well affectedness.” Predicated of God, it indicates God’s love and grace towards man; predicated of man, it signifies man’s love toward s God, i.e. piety, or man’s love towards his neighbour, i.e. humanity. Where this mercy or love is exhibited in man it finds expression in

(1) mutual outward help;

(2) forgiveness of offences;

(3) sympathy of feeling, which leads to interchange of thought, and so to the development of the spiritual life (see Elster, in loc.).

The word carries with it the ideas of kindlim as, benignity (Targum, benignitas), and grace (Syriac, gratia). Truth (emeth); properly, firmness, or stability, and so fidelity in which one performs one’s promise. Truth is that absolute integrity of character, beth in word and deed, which secures the unhesitating confidence of all (Wardlaw). Umbreit and Elster designate it as inward truthfulness, the pectus rectum, the very essence of a true man. As khesed excludes all selfishness and hate, so emeth excludes all hypocrisy and dissimulation. These two virtues are frequently combined in the Proverbs (e.g. Pro_14:22; Pro_16:16; Pro_20:28) and Psalms (e.g. Psa_25:10; Psa_40:11; Psa_57:4-11; Psa_108:5; Psa_138:2), and, when predicated of man, indicate the highest normal standard of moral perfection (Zockler). The two ideas are again brought together in the New Testament phrase, ἀληθευ ́ειν ἐν ἀγάπη, “to speak the truth in love” (Eph_4:15). There seems little ground for the remark of Salasius, that “mercy” refers to our neighbours, and “truth” to God. Each virtue, in fact, has a twofold reference—one to God, the other to man. The promise in verse 4, that the exercise of these virtues procures favour with God and man, implies this twofold aspect. Bind them about thy neck; either

(1) as ornaments worn about the neck (Gejerus, Zockler); or

(2) as amulets or talismans, which were worn from a superstitious notion to ward off danger (Umbreit and Vaihinger); or

(3) as treasures which one wears attached to the neck by a chain to guard against their loss (Hitzig); or

(4) as a signet, which was carried on a string round the neck (Delitzsch). The true reference of the passage seems to lie between (1) and (3). The latter adapts itself to the parallel expression, “Write them on the tablet of thine heart,” and also agrees with Pro_6:21, “Tie them about thy neck,” the idea being that of their careful preservation against loss. The former meaning, however, seems preferable. Mercy and truth are to be ornaments of the character, to be bound round the neck, i.e. worn at all times (comp. Pro_1:9, “For they shall be an ornament of grace unto thine head, and chains about thy neck.” See also Gen_41:42; So Gen_1:10; Gen_4:9; Eze_16:11). The imagery of the binding is evidently taken from Exo_13:9 and Deu_6:8, and is suggestive of the tephillim, or phylacteries. Write them upon the table of thine heart; i.e. inscribe them. mercy and truth, deeply there, impress them thoroughly and indelibly upon thine heart, so that they may never be forgotten, and may form the mainspring of your actions. The expression implies that the heart is to be in entire union with their dictates. The table (luakh) was the tablet expressly prepared for writing by being polished, corresponding to the πινακίδον, the writing table of Luk_1:63, which, however, was probably covered with wax. The inscription was made with the stylus. The same word is used of the tables of stone, on which the ten commandments were written with the finger of God, end allusion is in all probability here made to that fact (Exo_31:18; Exo_34:28). The expression, “the tables of the heart,” occurs in Pro_7:3; Jer_17:1 (cf. 2Co_3:3); and is used by AEschylus, ‘Pro.,’ 789, δέλτοι φρενῶν, “the tablets of the heart.” This clause is omitted in the LXX.

Cambridge Bible Perowne

Proverbs 3:3

3. mercy and truth] The phrase is often used to represent the character of Almighty God as exhibited in His dealings with men (Gen_24:17; Gen_32:11; Exo_34:6; Psa_25:10). Hence it comes to represent the perfection of moral character in man (Pro_16:6, Pro_20:28).

bind them … write them] Cultivate alike their outward exhibition “about thy neck,” and their inward possession upon the table of thine heart. Let them be in thee at once attractive and genuine. (Comp. Pro_7:3; 2Co_3:2-3; 1Pe_3:3-4).

Pulpit Commentary


So shalt thou find (vum’lsa); literally, and find. A peculiar use of the imperative, the imperative kal (m’tsa) with vav consecutive (וִ) being equivalent to the future, “thou shalt find,” as in the Authorized Version. This construction, where two imperatives are joined, the former containing an exhortation or admonition, the second a promise made on the condition implied in the first, and the second imperative being used as a future, occurs again in Pro_4:4; Pro_7:2, “Keep my commandments, and live;” Pro_9:6, “Forsake the foolish, and live;” Pro_20:13, “Open thine eyes, and thou shalt be satisfied with bread”. Delitzsch calls this “an admonitory imperative;” Bottcher, “the desponsive imperative.” Compare the Greek construction in Menander, Οἶδ ὅτι ποίησον, for ποιήσεις, “Know that this you will do.” Find (matza); here simply “to attain,” “obtain,” not necessarily implying previous search, as in Pro_17:20. Favour (khen). The same word is frequently translated “grace,” and means the same thing; Vulgate, gratia; LXX; χαρίς. For the expression, “to find favour” (matsa khen), see Gen_6:8; Exo_33:12; Jer_31:2; comp. Luk_1:30, Εὗρες γὰρ χάριν παρὰ τῷ Θεῷ.” For thou hast found favour [or, ‘grace’] with God.” spoken by Gabriel to the Virgin. Good understanding (sekel tov); i.e. good sagacity, or prudence. So Delitzsch, Bertheau, Kamph. A true sagacity, prudence, or penetrating judgment will be adjudicated by God and man to him who possesses the internal excellence of love and truth. The Hebrew sekel is derived from sakal, “to act wisely or prudently,” and has this intellectual meaning in Pro_13:15; Psa_111:10 (see also 1Sa_25:3 and 2Ch_30:22). The Targum Jonathan reads, intellectus et benignitas, thus throwing the adjective into a substantival form; the Syriac, intellectus simply. Ewald, Hitzig, Zockler, and others, on the other hand, understand sekel as referring to the judgment formed of any one, the favourable opinion or view which is entertained of hint by others, and hence take it as reputation, or estimation. The man who has love and truth will be held in high esteem by God and man. Our objection to this rendering is that it does not seem to advance the meaning of the passage beyond that of “favour.” Another, mentioned by Delitzsch, is that sekel is never used in any other sense than that of intellectus in the Mishle. The marginal reading, “good success,” i.e. prosperity, seems inadmissible here, as the hiph. has’kil, “to cause to prosper,” as in Pro_17:8; Jos_1:7; Deu_29:9, does not apply in this instance any more than in Psa_111:10, margin. In the sight of God and man (b’eyney elohim v’adam); literally, in the eyes of Elohim and man; i.e. according to the judgment of God and man (Zockler); Vulgate, coram Deo et hominibus. A simpler form of this phrase is found in 1Sa_2:26, where Samuel is said to have found favour with the Lord, and also with men. So in Luk_2:52 Jesus found favour “with God and man (παρὰ Θεῷ καὶ ἀνθρω ́ποις)” (comp. Gen_10:9; Act_2:47, Rom_14:18). The two conditions of favor and sagacity, or prudence, are not to be assigned respectively to God and man (as Ewald and Hitzig), or that finding favour has reference more to God, and being deemed prudent refers more to man. The statement is universal. Both these conditions will be adjudged to the man who has mercy and truth by God in heaven and man on earth at the same time (see Delitszch). The LXX; “after favour,” instead of the text, reads, “and provide good things in the sight of the Lord and men,” quoted by St. Paul (2Co_8:21).


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